THURROCK Council have launched a probe into a possible smear campaign against a senior Conservative councillor following the publication of secret filming on the internet.
On Thursday, the leader of the Thurrock Conservatives, cllr Phil Anderson and the chair of the planning committee, cllr Terry Hipsey had a dvd delivered to their respective addresses.
The DVD is a 23-second clip which shows former mayor, cllr Joy Redsell in conversation with an unknown male.
The tape, which has now been published on the video-sharing website youtube, has a date of 31st April 2011 (sic) and an address of Marygreen Manor Hotel, Brentwood.
The film (which has not been verified) appears to show the long standing member of the planning committee and an unknown male, sitting together in a bar area, with a large map in front of them.
As well as the dvd, other councillors including the leader of Thurrock Council, cllr John Kent have received a letters referring to the film.
Cllr Kent told YourThurrock. “I received the letter on Thursday and immediately sent it to the Monitoring Officer”.
A spokesperson said: “The Leader of the Council and the Leader of the Conservative group both received an anonymous letter on Thursday afternoon last week. The letter to Cllr Anderson included a CD.
“The CD was without sound, although the letter made certain allegations of what was said in the videoed conversation.
“Both Leaders contacted the council’s legal department and the matter is being looked at and the member involved has been informed.
“Under the circumstances we cannot comment further.”
YourThurrock sent a number of questions to the leader of the Conservative group seeking requesting that he give a full and detailed explanation of the events at the hotel.
Councillor Anderson called for a meeting of the Tory group, which met at the civic offices last night.
After the meeting councillor Anderson issued the following statement.
“The rules of the Council are clearly laid out in the Code of Conduct. Members of the public are always free to speak with Councillors about whatever matters they wish. If the matter subsequently came before any formal meeting of the Council, the Member involved would then need to consider declaring a personal or prejudicial interest as appropriate. All Conservative Members are aware of these rules and I am committed to ensuring that they are rigorously followed.
A similar piece of covert filming appeared on the internet last year when then Aveley councillor, John Cowell (Tory) was filmed discussing the problems of lorry park applications.